James Ferguson


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Retrieval Data Augmentation Informed by Downstream Question Answering Performance
James Ferguson | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Pradeep Dasigi | Tushar Khot
Proceedings of the Fifth Fact Extraction and VERification Workshop (FEVER)

Training retrieval models to fetch contexts for Question Answering (QA) over large corpora requires labeling relevant passages in those corpora. Since obtaining exhaustive manual annotations of all relevant passages is not feasible, prior work uses text overlap heuristics to find passages that are likely to contain the answer, but this is not feasible when the task requires deeper reasoning and answers are not extractable spans (e.g.: multi-hop, discrete reasoning). We address this issue by identifying relevant passages based on whether they are useful for a trained QA model to arrive at the correct answers, and develop a search process guided by the QA model’s loss. Our experiments show that this approach enables identifying relevant context for unseen data greater than 90% of the time on the IIRC dataset and generalizes better to the end QA task than those trained on just the gold retrieval data on IIRC and QASC datasets.


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IIRC: A Dataset of Incomplete Information Reading Comprehension Questions
James Ferguson | Matt Gardner | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Tushar Khot | Pradeep Dasigi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Humans often have to read multiple documents to address their information needs. However, most existing reading comprehension (RC) tasks only focus on questions for which the contexts provide all the information required to answer them, thus not evaluating a system’s performance at identifying a potential lack of sufficient information and locating sources for that information. To fill this gap, we present a dataset, IIRC, with more than 13K questions over paragraphs from English Wikipedia that provide only partial information to answer them, with the missing information occurring in one or more linked documents. The questions were written by crowd workers who did not have access to any of the linked documents, leading to questions that have little lexical overlap with the contexts where the answers appear. This process also gave many questions without answers, and those that require discrete reasoning, increasing the difficulty of the task. We follow recent modeling work on various reading comprehension datasets to construct a baseline model for this dataset, finding that it achieves 31.1% F1 on this task, while estimated human performance is 88.4%. The dataset, code for the baseline system, and a leaderboard can be found at https://allennlp.org/iirc.


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Semi-Supervised Event Extraction with Paraphrase Clusters
James Ferguson | Colin Lockard | Daniel Weld | Hannaneh Hajishirzi
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

Supervised event extraction systems are limited in their accuracy due to the lack of available training data. We present a method for self-training event extraction systems by bootstrapping additional training data. This is done by taking advantage of the occurrence of multiple mentions of the same event instances across newswire articles from multiple sources. If our system can make a high-confidence extraction of some mentions in such a cluster, it can then acquire diverse training examples by adding the other mentions as well. Our experiments show significant performance improvements on multiple event extractors over ACE 2005 and TAC-KBP 2015 datasets.

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Identifying Domain Adjacent Instances for Semantic Parsers
James Ferguson | Janara Christensen | Edward Li | Edgar Gonzàlez
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

When the semantics of a sentence are not representable in a semantic parser’s output schema, parsing will inevitably fail. Detection of these instances is commonly treated as an out-of-domain classification problem. However, there is also a more subtle scenario in which the test data is drawn from the same domain. In addition to formalizing this problem of domain-adjacency, we present a comparison of various baselines that could be used to solve it. We also propose a new simple sentence representation that emphasizes words which are unexpected. This approach improves the performance of a downstream semantic parser run on in-domain and domain-adjacent instances.


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Disfluency Detection with a Semi-Markov Model and Prosodic Features
James Ferguson | Greg Durrett | Dan Klein
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies